Category Archives: Relationships

proving myself

Well, this one has been sitting in my drafts folder, just titled and all alone, for a week. I’ve tried to stay away from it but alas, here we are.

A week ago I got the keyboard out to start writing this one based on a cycle I was stuck in with a friend. You see, I have this really fun tendency to over-explain myself in every sense of the word. It’s almost like I feel like I’m going to get caught even though I know I’ve done nothing wrong. So, when I’m not in a healthy place emotionally, I jump on my wordy hamster wheel and just talk and talk and talk myself around whatever I’m doing.

Luckily, I have really great people in my life and the one I was spiraling with stopped me and said, “Stop trying to prove yourself to me. You’re fine. I trust you.”

And man, what a relief that was. To have people who know the path you’re headed down and can keep you from it is such a gift.

The bummer is that this isn’t the first time my friend(s) have had to say something like that. But again, the gift is that they do. And so it seemed the cycle had halted.

Enter: Saturday.

I visited my family to celebrate my Grandma’s 92nd birthday and while I was there my sister, nephew, boyfriend, and I went for a lil’ afternoon hangout sesh at the local watering hole. One of the beautifully awful things about growing up in a small town is that everyone knows everyone and you can’t go anywhere without running into someone you grew up with. I say it’s beautifully awful because 1) what a gift to be in such a tight knit community, but 2) what a terror to know that everyone knows everything about who you were from ages 0-18/19/20.

So naturally, in walks someone I went to high school and played sports with. I introduced her to my boyfriend and immediately said, “We played basketball together and she was better than me.”

Cue my insides exploding.

Here I was again, trying to – in a backwards way – prove myself. I had to get it out there that I knew my place and I knew that she was better than me but it didn’t bother me (except oh yes it did). I could feel the 17 year old in me writhing with insecurity as this person got the recognition I longed for. All those years of trying to prove myself on the court, in the classroom, with the friend groups came flying back into the present and they were not.fun.

I laughed it off with my sister, rolled my eyes at myself, and went back to staring at my nephew because little boys are the cure for everything.

When I returned home and back to my normal life, recounting the weekend with a friend, she mentioned a similar instance from her weekend. She said, “It was like I was on the outside and I couldn’t figure out how to get in.”

And with that I exclaimed a loud, “YES! SAME!”

But here’s the kicker with it all: I am absolutely in love with where I am “in” in my life. God has been so kind to place me on the inside of so many beautiful relationships, and honestly, He has also been so kind in keeping me on the outside of others. Yet, the insecurity of knowing I’m on the outside of some places can be so deafening at times. Having physical voices loud enough to drown out the lies of the enemy has truly proven to be God’s grace poured out on my life.

I have no idea how to end this blog. No real bow to tie around it. It’s just a lot of strewn together thoughts about how destructive the urge to prove myself can be.

And for now, that’s totally fine.

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the windy city

Yes. This is about Chicago. But also, it’s not.

Five years ago I took my first summer trip to Chicago as an adult. I have to caveat that because I went as a teen for a softball tournament and fell in love with the city, but my parents were with me, so I was limited on the shenanigans I could get into.

I went with two dear friends and we had a fantastic time – 2 nights, 3 days right on Lake Shore Drive, eating pizza, seeing comedy shows, and delighting in the company of one another. It’s truly one of the dearest memories I have in traveling with friends.

This week, I went back for my first summer trip since then. I love Chi-town and have been many times, but for whatever reason I’ve chosen the cold months to visit throughout these five years. As I got off the train and started walking around, my mind began to wade through the last five years (which also happens to be the name of the saddest/best musical movie starring Anna Kendrick that my friend watched and told me I was horrible for recommending. Seriously. It’s sad.)

I digress.

The last five years.

I began to think about the friends I was with in 2014 and how we have since had a pretty major friend breakup.

I only have my side of the story, and I’m not going to share that with everyone. But the truth of the matter is, there was a tremendous ripping apart between us. We all played a role in the ripping. I will own my part in that hurt. But it was a breakup that I never saw coming because it was with friends. The ripping apart was hard. But that doesn’t take away what those friends meant to me in that season.

This past February, author and podcaster Annie F. Downs spoke at IF:Gathering on this exact topic. Her talk, What Happens When People Let You Down? (can be found on RightNow Media), spoke about the heartbreak of breakups – how when a breakup happens, you lose the future you thought you were going to have. But we don’t talk about losing the future with friends. So, in the way that only Annie can, she did.

And she gutted me with this line: “Losing a friendship feels like a ripping when that friend becomes and idol.”

And ultimately, that’s what I had let happen in my past friendships. They become my idol. The relationship itself became an idol. They were the thing that kept me safe and secure.

This time around, I went by myself.

I sent this picture to my mom so she knew I was safe, but as I looked at it – at me – I saw someone who is just way more settled into the fact that nothing outside of Jesus can satisfy, save, or secure her. 2014 Kayla was grasping for straws when it came to security, love, being known.

2019 Kayla knows she is secure, loved, and known in Christ.
I don’t have it all worked out, but I’m comfortable with knowing that God is working it out.

And now, as Annie also said, my friendships work because I don’t ask them to be my God. I just ask them to be my friend. With God as my closest friend, all other friends are a delightful gift.

And that they are. As I took inventory of my friends on Ohio Street Beach, I (surprise) got emotional. Overwhelmingly thankful that God has seen fit to give me Himself with flesh on in the form of my friends. And has given me the gift of Himself, so that I don’t have to grasp for and impress people that will let me down.

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mourning motherhood

mourning motherhood.png

For as long as I can remember, Mother’s Day service at the church I grew up in always looked the same. The pastor would ask the moms in the room to stand up. They would, and everyone would clap. Then he would proceed to figure out which mom had the most kids by asking women to sit down if they had less than X number of children. By process of elimination, our congregation would celebrate the mother of the most children and she would be presented with a beautiful floral arrangement. Then the same process would occur to figure out which mom was the oldest AND which mom was the youngest, and both would receive a flower to take home and set as a center piece for Sunday dinner.

We were in the business of celebrating moms.

From an early age I knew that to be celebrated as a woman I needed to have children.

And I don’t say that in a prideful way.
I’m not fishing for applause, nor do I intend to have an “everyone come see how good I look!” attitude.

Simply put, I knew my value in the church and society would increase as soon as I had a kid.

So imagine 17-year-old Kayla mapping her life out.
Married by 22, 23 at the latest.
First child by 25, cause ya know…let’s be married for at least a couple of years before we have kids.
Be done growing my brood by 32.

And here I am.
Almost 29.
No marriage.
No kids.

The dreams I had for myself 12 years ago left unfulfilled.

And I’m not the only one. I know many people who have had to mourn the loss of the dreams they had for themselves. Whether focused on marriage, career, being a parent…whatever it may be. We all have things that we desire that have not come to pass.

And it’s okay to mourn those things.
It’s okay to feel deep sorrow for something you’ve never had.
To feel a sense of loss and sadness over something that was never yours to begin with is okay. In fact, I think it’s natural.

Especially when we’ve believed the lie that the thing we’re mourning is somehow attached to our value.

And yes, it is a lie. Straight from the mouth of the enemy.
It’s a lie for anyone, anywhere, in any context to tell you (or even show you by their reaction, or lack of) that your value is tied to an.y.thing other than Jesus.

If you find yourself with people – or in a community – that try to tell you that you can’t be fully who you are because you don’t have a husband/child/higher paying job/boots with the fur, you lovingly tell them to shut the H up.*

Be with people who, along with the Holy Spirit, help redeem the lies that have been spoken into your life.

A BIG PRAISE & AMEN for the way God has softened the ground of my heart and given me so many people who speak truth over my life. And not only speak it, but by their actions are in the process of redeeming so much of what has been broken over the years.

People who:

  • 2 weeks after their child is born and we’re in a crowded room say, “Here, take him while I go do something…” And let me snuggle their little one for what feels like an eternity.
  • trust me enough to stay overnight with their kids so they can go on a marriage retreat.
  • are honest with me when I ask them what it’s like to raise three boys and how they teach their kids to live off their own faith and not mom & dad’s.
  • invite me into their lives by sharing the joyous news of a new baby and remind me that they want me to be a part of their kid’s life.
  • let me sit on the floor of their nursery while they put their baby to sleep.
  • tell me that they feel safe and comfortable when I hold their daughter and, as I walk up, basically throw her at me because their arms need a break.
  • affirm the voice that I have with their kids and trust that I love their children and want to point them to Jesus.
  • when I ask them about their lives, they don’t just talk about their kids. They talk about themselves. Because that’s what I’ve asked about. And we can share life as people whose identities are rooted in Jesus, not the other labels that we carry.

You see, I’ve mourned “natural” motherhood for myself up to this point in my life. But I don’t really have to mourn all of what motherhood is because I have people in my life that value me. Kayla. They see me and love me and affirm who God has made me to be. They call me to good and ask me to do the same of them, and their kids.

For all the non-mom’s out there today, or any day really, know that it’s okay to feel sad. It’s okay to mourn that which you do not have. But also know that it’s okay to fight for community that not only allows, but asks, for you to live out the way God has made you as woman. Whatever that might look like.

And know that if we were to be in a church together and the pastor asked all the mom’s to stand up, I would clap for them, but then I would stand up and shout, “All women, rise!” and I would throw out candy because that’s usually better than flowers anyways 🙂

*but seriously, do it lovingly, not with anger or bitterness or trying to beat them at their own game. and if you need to take a beat, call me, then chat with them about it, feel free!

 

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teamwork makes the dream work

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Happy Valentine’s Day, lovers!

lovers.jpg

That’s all I have to contribute to the holiday.

Now.

I was at a conference this past weekend. Some of you may know about it. It’s called the if:Gathering. You can learn more about it here. I enjoyed the time I got to spend with some ladies from my church and came away with quite a bit to think about.

The structure of the conference was: listen to a teaching, talk about it at your table, eat some snacks, repeat. One of the questions that was asked at our table was, What is my dream for my people and my place?

The first thing that came to mind was: team.

Now, being the washed-up athlete that I am, that might not be surprising to most. But more importantly than what first came to mind was the images and feelings I got while I thought through it a little more.

My junior and senior year’s of high school basketball were some of the most fun I had as a player of the sports. It was so much fun to be on the court with my best friends, competing together and having the time of our lives.

One image that kept coming up over and over again this past weekend was our inbound plays – in particular, under-the-basket inbounds plays my senior year.

My friend Brandi and I had the best chemistry under the basket. As guard, I was responsible for getting the ball in play. If the play was busted, Brandi just knew where to cut and when to cut, and I knew she would always be there. I could no-look-bounce-pass Mr. Spaulding into the lane, Brandi would snatch that sucker up, and the LadyCats would have 2 more points added to their total. I never worried about a 5-second violation because I knew Brandi would be there.

We even played in a three-on-three tournament a few years later and did the same. dang. thang. My teammate was there for me.

Knowing each other that well didn’t just occur after one day of practice. We sweat together, bled together, went through hell week together. (side note: have you ever had 2 weeks of Christmas break practice with NO GAMES to play?! it’s the worst. you want to quit everything and just go home to eat Christmas candy.)

And that’s what I want from my people and my place.

I want my team.

I want us to be there for each other.
To anticipate one another’s moves.
To remind and ensure each other that, even if the play is busted, we’ve got each other’s backs. We don’t need to worry about hell week by ourselves because our teammates will be there in it with us.

A year ago I wrote about standing on holy ground with others. How there is something sacred about holding someone else’s story with them. And I’m so thankful that’s how my team has formed.

I know my team holds my story and I feel so thankful that they allow me to hold theirs.
I know we all stand on holy ground with and for one another.
I know that the sacredness we share in spiritual friendship is rare, and I hope I never take it for granted.

Whatever my dream is – or ends up being – I know it’ll be easier to chase because of the stellar team I’ve got on my sideline.

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cheers to the risk

Cheers to the Risk

“Perfect and bulletproof are seductive, but they don’t exist in the human experience.”-Brené Brown

This past weekend I had the privilege of retreating with some ladies from my church. The whole premise of the retreat was to sit around a table, eat delicious foods, and tell stories of where we’ve been, where we are, and where we hope to go with Jesus. It was – hands down – my favorite women’s retreat I’ve ever been on.

I’ve been thinking quite a bit over the last few days about spiritual community – thoughts unfortunately spurned on by the great lack that most people seem to have. It seems as if so many of us that follow Jesus are trying to do it alone. Or, at bare minimum, we invite others into our lives to follow Him with one another, but it’s as if we’re walking on opposite sides of the road, unwilling to close the gap and truly journey together. There’s great risk in sharing our lives with people around us, and we’re too scared to take that step. So, instead, we do all the right things – Bible study, small group, women’s events, church clean-up days, dinner with a group of people once a month – we insert ourselves into all the right ‘communities’ thinking that at some point, magic will happen and we’ll be seen and known the way we desire. But here’s the catch – we won’t. We can show up and do all the right things and never get to the point where people know us – really know us.

We’re afraid of the vulnerability and risk it will take to really open our hearts up to others, trusting that the Lord has placed people in our lives to be God-with-flesh-on for us, to fill the intimate space of companionship that we all so desperately crave.

“We love seeing raw truth and openness in other people, but we’re afraid to let them see it in us. We’re afraid that our truth isn’t enough – that what we have to offer isn’t enough without the bells and whistles, without editing, and impressing.”-Brené Brown

For me, the space never even came CLOSE to being filled until I came to the end of my do-ing, and let myself just be.

Be seen.
Be known.
Be open.
Be vulnerable.
Be ready for grace.
Be ready for God to show up.

Be present with Jesus and not expect anything but Him.

And then, be present with people – offering our story of where we’ve been with Jesus, where we are with Jesus, and where we hope to go with Jesus.
Opening up our lives, risking the potential rejection, hurt, and isolation that may come with the weight our stories carry.
But the other thing we risk – the beautiful thing that we risk – is actually having someone receive our story.

Because once someone receives it, they are in it with you. They are now a part of your story. And you can’t walk away from that the same person.

It. Will. Change. You.

I think we all wait around for that type of pivotal plot point, eager to step into that sacred space. But few of us are willing to open up our souls, standing naked and unashamed before one another (metaphorically naked, that is. Keep your clothes on if we’re hanging out…)

I guess that’s my point. Take the risk. Raise your glass to the unknown, to that which should scare the pants off of you (but again…keep your pants on). You’re life will be filled to the brim if you do.

“The willingness to show up changes us. It makes us a little braver each time.”-Brené Brown

 

(sorry, not sorry for all the Brené Brown quotes. now, go read all her books and have your heart ripped out a little bit – in the best ways.)

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